June 06, 2013, 6:00 AM —
Let's talk about Windows 8. You hate it, right? Seems like almost everyone does. Or maybe those of us who're OK with it just don't make a lot of noise. For the most part all I ever see are people complaining about it.
We all know Windows 8.1 is coming soon and Microsoft has tried to address some of the concerns users have with Windows 8. For instance you'll be able to boot right to the desktop which is the only behavior that makes sense if, like me, you think of the "Start Screen" as just a giant Start menu. Speaking of which, Microsoft is also adding a Start Button to the desktop but I don't know that it'll please many people. This isn't the Start Menu from Windows 7 and earlier, but just a button that takes you to the Start Screen. We already have a key on our keyboards to do that.
(It's worth mentioning that there are third party applications such as Stardock's Start8 that do restore the traditional Windows Start menu and which already allow you to boot right to desktop.)
Yesterday Microsoft published a four and a half minute video previewing some of the improvements in Windows 8.1. A lot of what they show still revolves around the Start Screen and using touch, but there's some good news. For instance if you do use the Start Screen it sounds like you'll be able to dock more than two apps at one time. One of the single dumbest limitations of Windows 8 on a non-tablet now is limiting you to seeing two applications at once (unless you keep using the traditional Windows desktop which is what most people wind up doing). There're also some enhancements to search that could be helpful or not. I think we'll have to use it before we know for sure.
Anyway here's the video:
Windows 8.1 Preview is coming on June 26th, but think carefully before you install it. Over at ZD Net Mary Jane Foley walks us through the details of the Windows 8.1 upgrade and if I'm reading her correctly, installing the Preview build means that when you install the final build, you'll have to re-install all your apps. Additionally if you decide to roll back to Windows 8, you'll still have to reinstall all your apps.
On the other hand if you wait until the final version of Windows 8.1 is available, you'll be able to upgrade to it and not have to reinstall anything.
Of course some people prefer fresh installations anyway and it's hard to argue against that decision, but if you're planning to do an upgrade and don't want to re-install everything, you may want to wait for the released version of Windows 8.1. The update will be free so most users will probably want to upgrade at some point.
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